But [the leper] went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
– Mark 1:45
From the sermon, Jesus the Cleanser, that I recently preached at our church:
Mark is foreshadowing. He’s pointing forward to that moment on the cross when Jesus is alone. An unclean outcast. Dying outside the city gates. Bearing the curse of our infection. Becoming a curse for us. Mark is pointing forward to that moment in his gospel when he quotes Jesus crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
And it’s right here that Mark draws us in to the story. He’s not just foreshadowing. He’s preaching the gospel to the reader. Have you ever wondered why the gospel writers don’t spell out the gospel like…Paul? Like 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”? That’s very propositional. It’s very theological sounding. Technical. The Gospels never sound like that? Why? You ever wondered that? I have. All the time.
Here’s the answer, I think: The gospel writers don’t sound like that because they’re writing the story of Jesus living it. Paul can tell you good news. Jesus is good news, as Todd said when this series began.
Jesus trades places with the leper to show us we have something worse than leprosy going on. We are infected with spiritual leprosy. Sin. It’s not something that can be covered up or scrubbed off….
It dirties us from the inside out so that we are outcasts before the presence of Almighty God. It even isolates us from each other. We need cleansing to be welcomed back.
And the only way to be clean is if Jesus trades places with us. He comes to ransom, buy us back. He becomes unclean. He becomes the Infection. He loses everything, even his Father, in a moment, bearing the sentence we deserved. Look at him, dying for you and me. The lepers. It cost him everything to make us clean.